Ron Moody as Fagin.
A major link with the original stage production
that electrified London's west end was provided by Ron Moody, who created the
role of Fagin to universal acclaim, and now he repeats it on the screen.
Elevated to stardom by his success, Ron could have made a career of playing
Fagin, but he choose not to. After playing the part for a year, he decided to
return to writing - his first love. It was the good fortune of the film
"Oliver!" that Ron was ready to return to acting when the time came for casting.
His original west end performance was by now legendary, and though fine actors
had succeeded him in London and on Broadway, it was felt none through the years
was his superior. Besides, thanks to the laps of time, he could approach the
role with a new freshness. He was the producers first choice for the part. Ron
has worked on numerous film, stage and television
projects since his legendary performance as Fagin.
Oliver Reed as Bill Sikes.
The "villain-you-love-to-hate" role of Bill Sikes
cried for an actor with look and manner of menace; these Oliver Reed had in
abundance. In addition he had the celebrity of sudden stardom produced by two
important films that flashed across the worlds screens in a recent wave
emanating from England. "The Jokers" and "I'll Never Forget What's Is
Name." Reed was already a young veteran when John Woolf picked him to play the
complex and inherently evil character of Sikes. "The Girl Getters" was the first
film to bring him sharply to critical attention, although to television
audiences of the time he was a well known figure. Woolf had no great difficulty
in convincing director Reed he had made the right choice: Carol Reed happened to
be Oliver Reed's uncle. Oliver Reed's final film was in Ridley Scott's
"Gladiator" starring Russell Crowe.
Harry Secombe as Mr. Bumble.
Broadway had already a taste of the distinctive
personality of Harry Secombe when he played the title role in "Pickwick" also a
Dickensian musical, but England knew him far, far better in all the
outstanding variety of his talents. Harry actually bridged the
generation gap by being a big music-hall star as England had ever known,
while at the same time scaling the very heights in the then newest
medium television. "Secombe and Friends" inevitably garnered the highest
viewer ratings each time the variety series made one of its infrequent
appearances, and audiences would flock to all his personal appearances,
whether at the London Palladium, or star of the stage musical.
And there was more to Harry than met the eye - or ear: he has published short
stories, and had worked on a novel. Harry will perhaps be best
remembered, as Ned Seagoon in the UK's legendary "Goon Show" together
with Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, and of course Michael Bentine. Post "Oliver!" Harry continued to
success both in theatre and television.
Shani Wallis as Nancy.
"Transatlantic" is a word that has come into wide use over the years
because it fits so precisely outstanding performers such as Shani
Wallis, who's either the English girl living in America or an American
girl suddenly called back to London for her first motion picture
starring role. Depends on your point of view. But whatever that point of
view, Shani is equally at home in the swank Empire Room of New York's
Waldorf Astoria; as headliner on the Ed Sullivan television show;
starring in a Las Vegas show...or on stage in her native London. There
she first won fame as "the British Ethel Merman" and "the British Judy
Garland" (as critic Kenneth Tynan dubbed her in the then London Times).
Her other glittering credits include "Bells Are Ringing" and "Wonderful
Town." Shani returned to the London
stage starring as Dorothy Brock in "42nd Street" at the Theatre Royal
Drury Lane together with England's legendary Frankie Vaughn.
Mark Lester as
Two thousand young hopefuls applied for the title role in
250 of them were actually auditioned by producer John Woolf and director
Carol Reed before making their choice. Nine-year-old Mark Lester won the
role with his angelic looks and air of a "veteran" - he'd had amazing
experience for someone so young (he was then all of 8!). The son of
acting family, he had already appeared on the screen in Truffaut's
"Fahrenheit 451" and as one of the children in Jack Clayton's "Our
Mother's House" which stared Dirk Bogarde. It was Clayton who
suggested him for "Oliver!" Born in Oxford, Mark took the great responsibilities
of his key role in his stride, and devoted the rest of his waking hours to
school, plus (on occasion) boating, swimming and football.
Mark went on and
starred alongside some of Hollywood's greatest screen legends including, Kirk Douglas,
Charlton Heston and Shelley Winters among many others.
Jack Wild as the Artful Dodger.
The same kind of cocky self-assurance and bubbling over of show-manly
gifts that marked the likes of Mickey Rooney and Anthony Newley of other
years can perhaps describe Jack Wild. Jack and his brother Arthur were
both members of Fagin's gang in the latter days of the musical's long
London run, and Jack eventually moved up to the next-important Fagin boy
role of Charlie Bates, but hadn't grown enough to play the role he
wanted from the beginning- the Artful Dodger, whose rightful name
(according to Dickens, who should know) is Jack Dawkins.
Jack's ambition was finally fulfilled when he landed his dream role in the film. He also
won an Oscar nomination for "best supporting actor" in the part. Jack
was reunited with Mark Lester in a delightful film called "Melody"
which also starred Tracy Hyde in the title role.
For more cast and crew info please visit:
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